(written by Lori McCormick)
Having spent a majority of my college advising time working with low-income and/or first generation students, financial aid and scholarships are a continual topic of conversation. Working with my families who fall somewhere north of this category, while may have the same questions and concerns, have a more limited pool of opportunities to apply to funding their child's education. Merit-based aid is still a solid option for students whose incomes do not meet the low-income criteria, as long as the student has an impressive GPA (hence the "merit" portion of these scholarships?).
Well, I am happy to report that this academic school year the California Student Aid Commission rolled out the Middle Class Scholarship. If anyone reading this blog has first-hand experience with how the scholarship process is working, please feel free to share in the comments section.
What is the Middle Class Scholarship and how do you qualify?
The Middle Class Scholarship is a new program beginning in the 2014-15 academic year that provides undergraduate students with family incomes up to $150,000 a scholarship to attend University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses. A family earning less than $100,000 per year may be eligible to receive up to 40% of systemwide tuition and fees.
To qualify, students must prove that in addition to having a 2.0 GPA, they are a U.S. citizen, are California or permanent residents, or are eligible to attend university under the California DREAM Act, and are not defaulting on loans. Scholarship amounts will increase incrementally.
Being eligible for the scholarship does not guarantee enrollment at a UC or CSU or vice-versa. You must apply to both - and, unlike the admissions application, you must apply to the Middle Class Scholarship every year.
It is too late to apply for this fall semester but students are encouraged to apply for the spring term. You can do this by applying to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you are under the Dream Act, apply using the California Dream Act Application. Deadline to apply is March 2, 2015. And remember - this is not a revolving scholarship; you will need to apply every year.
For more information on the Middle Class Scholarship, please visit the California Student Aid Commission's website.